With the 2020 Census rapidly approaching, counties need to begin preparing now. It is crucial that counties take an active role in the process in order to ensure that their community provides accurate data.
The Census Bureau will end its efforts to count the U.S. population a month early, at the end of September, even as more than a third of the nation has yet to respond to the decennial questionnaire. The bureau released a statement late Monday indicating its door knocking efforts would cease and online self-response options would close on Sept. 30 to allow for data processing.
Federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities are based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race and other factors. Your community benefits the most when the census counts everyone.
Academic institutions, medical facilities, businesses, and government rely on census data to inform their decision making and planning. Though only a few basic questions are asked in the census, the population counts and demographic data that it produces serve as a benchmark for most current statistics - all of which help gain deeper insights into every community.
The primary constitutional purpose for the census is to determine the number of congressional representatives for each state for the next decade and to ensure equal representation in the redistricting process. Congressional districts and the boundaries of every county and city ward are determined by census numbers.
Complete Count Committees seek to maximize responses by utilizing local knowledge, influence and resources to best reach local communities. This ground level approach helps the census break through barriers to hard to reach communities such as populations of recent immigrants, spread out rural areas, gated communities and neighborhoods with high crime. Local resources know the personalities and struggles of their communities, and know how best to tailor educational and promotional efforts in order to be well-received.
Committees are formed often, but not always, in conjunction with a local government such as the county. Individuals involved include government officials, spiritual leaders, tribal leaders, philanthropists, volunteer organizations, and representatives from the local business, education, and healthcare communities.
The committee helps to raise awareness, dispel fears, and educate their local communities on what the census is and how it operates. Furthermore they conduct fact-finding to identify cultural and operational barriers while using promotion to encourage participation. Outreach methods may include educational workshops, promotional rallies, contests, and advertising on social media and at popular community events.
Governor Ron DeSantis announced on January 6, 2020, the creation of a statewide Complete Count Committee. The committee consists of 25 individuals from a broad spectrum of entities including state government, business, education, nonprofits, and minority groups. The counties are represented by Ginger Delegal, Executive Director of the Florida Association of Counties, and Esteban Bovo, county commissioner, from Miami-Dade County.
This toolkit provides local leaders with resources to help increase response rates to the Census, create public advertising campaigns, access “hard to count” communities and respond to constituent inquiries. Click here to download the toolkit.
In the Fall of 2019, FAC conducted an informal poll with the 67 county governments of Florida. Some key takeaways include:
27 counties either have created or are working to create a Complete Count Committee for their communities - most are some hybrid of community stakeholders and government officials.
Of the committees, 16 will conduct fact-finding, six have decision-making authority, and 13 have some educational, awareness-raising, or promotional component.
The Complete Count Committee met for the first time on January 28, 2020. To view presentations from that meeting, please click here.
Ponte Vedra Recorder
St. Johns County’s 2020 Census Complete Count Committee has launched an educational campaign designed to inform residents on the community-wide benefits of St. Johns County receiving the most accurate and complete census count possible in 2020. The four-part campaign consists of an educational program, special events, speaking opportunities and partnership engagement. Read more.
Central Florida has been shortchanged by the federal government for decades because past census surveys undercounted people living here, elected leaders said Wednesday in a plea to boost participation and collect a more accurate tally of Sunshine State residents next year. Read more.
In recent months, the Donald Trump administration’s attempts to include a controversial citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census have irked Florida Democrats, who fear such an inquiry could lead to an undercount of the state’s population. Read more.
The 2020 census is likely to significantly under count Florida’s residents, a problem with roots beyond the proposed citizenship question. The Trump administration has spent less on preparation and outreach, and some of the innovations promised to increase efficiency remain undertested or unready for wide-scale use, a new report says. That’s a worrying for all Floridians, no matter your political leanings. Read more.